Dream homes – everybody has one. From cliff-side modern marvels to majestic traditional mansions and waterside homes with enviable views, a dream house has the elements to elevate your lifestyle. Look through HomeDSGN’s collection of featured dream homes and be inspired for your next upgrade or remodel…or just fantasize about living in them!
By Courtney • Mar 27, 2019
In a small village in the North of Spain, designer and architect Jesús Castillo Oli discovered a simple, ruined structure that, though inhabitable the way it was, held a lot of potential. That reinvigoration project was how the Transformed Ruins Loft was born!
Nestled on the outskirts of Porquera de los Infantes, in a rolling green meadow, the rehabilitated home still bears the original walls and bricks that were originally discovered by the architect. He wanted to preserve as much of the history of the place as possible in order to pay homage to its little local area, where only 32 inhabitants reside.
Despite the desire to keep the old elements of the loft as an explicit part of the new house, the design team allowed for, and even embraced, a demarcation between where those stones and bricks stop and where new, more modern materials begin. This creates a stunning contrast that shows the flawless blending of contemporary housing with historical buildings and areas.
Now that is is finished, one of the most striking features of the house (besides the loft itself) is the way the windows sit in the old brick. They are large, pristine, and framed in black, designed to let as much natural sunlight into the home as possible. The way these modern fixtures nestle into the old red wall of the original ruin is nearly breathtaking and highlights the beauty of the winder glass walls in the modern part of the house as well.
Another extremely notable feature is the inner courtyard. Despite the sprawling lands around the house, which are also taken advantage of in the form of outdoor seating and lovely patios, design teams wanted to build a calmer, quieter inner space that’s still out in the fresh air but a little more private. That’s how the brick walled and sunny rock garden became a little pocket of zen in the centre of the new house.
Even inside the much more modern interior of the house, which obviously had to be built completely anew as the interior of the original was worn away, certain details blend historical and contemporary beautifully. This is perhaps best seen in the way the red bricks are left exposed inside the house as well, or maybe in the thick, reclaimed wooden beams that line the peaked ceiling.
Decor is kept natural, homey, and war, but with a sense of rustic luxury. The open concept layout lets sunlight hit every corner of the room and allows the view from the inner loft pass right through the glass wall, past the inner zen courtyard, and into the fields beyond the house.
Photos by Ángel Baltanás
On Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the St Andrews Beach is a secluded seaside area that’s popular with some families despite its lack of amenities; it’s truly a natural experience that lacks the impact of busy human life. That’s precisely what attracted Austin Maynard Architects to the area, and also why they decided to keep their lovely St. Andrews Beach House as small and minimalist as possible!
Though stunning, this little beach house, which is designed to emulate an old beach shack despite its modern take on materiality and decor, is actually only five metres in radius. This makes it look less like a retreat house and more like an object nestled into the sands. It’s a modest affair, but it still provides everything you might need in a small beach shanty on a simple getaway.
Although he is Australian, the designer of this innovative little retreat used a New Zealand word as the inspiration for his concept; there, the word “bach” describes a very modest, small, and basic shed or shack. This word resonated with him because he saw how many Aussie homes and, following suit, beach homes have become huge, sprawling structures in recent years.
One the idea of building something more primitive but still livable had entered his mind, finding a suitable and similar location was the next challenge. The particular plot where the beach house now sits was selected specifically for its lack of nearby shopping and restaurants, which he acknowledges is the direct opposite of what most people would seek. There is a smart little brewery and a corner store not far off, but not much else can be seen for miles around.
The motivation behind seeking a place that offers seemingly “nothing” was to harness the beauty in what that kind of lovely natural seclusion really does have to offer. The breathtaking coastline, towering sand dunes, and nearby parkland were much better alternatives, in his mind, to shopping strips and bustling eateries.
The St Andrews Beach House is a two storey dwelling that’s entirely circular in shape on each floor, so it looks like a cylinder from the outside. This shape is to allow guests to take advantage of the remote location’s stunning views, which are 360 degree around it and worth taking in from every single angle.
The house stands on its own, blending in quite well to the wild bushes of the immediate terrain. The team’s utmost priority during their building process was to interrupt the land as little as possible, since the sandy location is quite fragile. The house respectfully integrates itself as best it can into the local nature thanks to minimalism and smart material choices.
Part of the freeing sensation of choosing a remote location was that designers didn’t have to work with any neighbouring building’s whose aesthetic their own creation might be influenced by or respond to. The two-bedroom dwelling is free to keep things simple and pleasantly wooden, inside and outside, concentrating on useful space to the point that it doesn’t even have corridors!
In addition to be rounded and subtle, the shack is also low maintenance and quite self sustaining. It is not, however, without creature comforts, particularly since the part of its whole purpose is relaxation! Rather than being entirely primitive, the shack instead feels informal, comfortably weather worn even though it’s new (thanks to the use of reclaimed materials), and blissfully private.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the public spaces, like the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The shack is also equipped with a laundry to make longer stays comfortable. Within the tube of the main building, on the outer border, sits an open deck area that doesn’t protrude at all from the main structure, at all. Instead, it nestles into the outer surface of the house so that the verandah space feels like a blend of indoor and outdoor elements.
To get from one floor to the other, the house features a centra spiral staircase that leads right up the middle to the second floor, where you’ll find the bedroom and bathroom space. Rather than being separated into traditional bedrooms, the area is like an open concept bunk room that is still afforded privacy between adult and kids’ areas by thick curtains that can be easily drawn or pulled back.
The goal was to keep things casual and relaxed, so the spacious bedroom floor features some open, nearly empty spots that also function as extra entertainment and games room spaces when guests visit. If too many guests arrive, the sand outside is soft and lovely and the weather is warm, so the owners frequently encourage visitors to pitch a tent outside under the night’s sky.
In terms of sustainability, the house is quite efficient and low maintenance once more. It features passive solar panels that fit subtly into the shape and design, eliminating the need for fossil fuels and gas to power any part of it. Outside, a cylindrical concrete water tank collects rain water during the wet season, which is used to water the garden and flush toilets.
Photos by Derek Salwell
Montreal home La Cardinale renovated by L. McComber to bring it back to life after years of young kids and extensions
By Courtney • Mar 22, 2019
In the Ville-Saint-Laurent neighbourhood of Montreal, Canada, innovative designers at L. McComber recently completed heavy renovations on a semi-detached Tudor home called La Cardinale, bringing it back to life after years of loving wear and tear.
Originally built in the 1950s, the house was long a home for young families with many children. It underwent several extensions without update to the old, main house, limiting the light that enters from outside and causing a disconnect in aesthetic and materiality. Once the children of the final owners had grown up and begun lives elsewhere, the decision was made to give the space a completely new look.
From the start, efforts were made to preserve some of the original Tudor charm that came with the house itself. Sure, updating and a facelift were necessary, but elements of the facade were untouched and already stunning, so it was agreed that they would be kept despite other structural and aesthetic changes taking place elsewhere.
First, old, slightly more clumsy extensions were removed from where they blocked sunlight entirely from entering the back of the house. New extensions were rebuilt, but they were strategically place to extend where they might connected already existing parts of the original building, rather than sticking so far out the back that the sunlight and yard disappeared.
Materiality was considered heavily in this process; original elements like plaster, stone, and red brick were kept but black geometric metal framing near windows and black sheet metal cladding were added to improve curability or energy efficiency. They contrast well with the light grey walls elsewhere, creating a sense of added modernity to the more classic facade. In certain places, pops of more contemporary colour were painted for personality.
Inside, the new extensions enabled designers to build a much more open concept layout where previous, older extensions had actually broken up the house a little and created more walls. This theme continues outside now as well, as a brand new black deck extends the kitchen right into the yard when the lovely, large glass door is opened entirely.
Despite the main living spaces and the yard making for a nearly entirely open plan ground floor, some delineation of space still exists so that the home feels sensical and organized. The large kitchen island is a great example of this; it marks a change in function from room to room without cutting off conversation and social time.
Between both floors of the house, unnecessarily filled space has been opened up to create a double-height open area above the living and social spaces below. This makes the whole house feel opened out but without losing the privacy of the intimate areas above. Instead of being fully closed off, a simple corridor along one side of the double-height space leads to the master bedroom and its ensuite bathroom.
This corridor is actually quite an experience to walk down because it’s fully opened, making it feel like you’re traveling across a bridge to reach the deep, relaxing bath. On one side of this corridor the owners are afforded a view of the lovely backyard from big, clear windows. On the other side, they can see right down into the main social areas.
Although the grand and rather rich looking exterior of the house was largely preserved for traditional style, the inside of the house now looks much more simplistic and neatly pleasant in terms of colour and materiality. It’s clean, white overarching palette is minimalist but elegant, like much of the decor, while floors, cabinets, and other details provide a sense of warmth thanks to their stained red oak panelling. A subtle sense of contemporary sophistication comes through in the black and white marbling of the countertops and bathroom finishes.
Photos by Raphaël Thibodeau
By Courtney • Mar 21, 2019
On a spacious plot of luscious green land in Bansberia, India, Abin Design Studio has recently completed a design intervention project in order to create the ultra contemporary and extremely unique House of Sweeping Shadows.
Originally, the plot contained a smaller structure already existing on the land, but the rest of the property was largely empty and unused. It bore a small, two story structure and a little mad-made ponds, but these weren’t being taken advantage of. Clients and designers alike decided that keeping the existing structures was a good idea, but that creating extensions to link them and build an unparalleled leisure zone was the best strategy. Establishing an impressive contemporary look was of the utmost importance to both parties.
First, they tackled the outdoor elements. The old brick lined pond, for example, was turned into a lovely swimming pool. The empty two-storey structure, on the other hand, now houses a gym, changing rooms for the pool area, and an innovative media lounge for when the owners host guests. The whole building has a lovely view out over the pool and surrounding grassy area.
Not far from the pool sits an outdoor leisure sector of a different kind; here you’ll find a barbeque station, a sunken seating area that recesses into the patio and gets lots of sun, and even a small aviary that draws huge, beautiful contrast with both the hard concrete spaces nearby and the softer, greener spaces to one side. The whole yard is an open area hub for entertainment and calm.
Regarding the original residence, the idea of keeping the existing structure was good but that didn’t mean it couldn’t receive a facelift! Designers opted to give its unremarkable facade a makeover by encasing it with a self-supporting metal screen structure that’s very modern in its shape and construction. The light metal used only required minimal anchoring to the building, meaning it was low impact on the original structure, particularly for the massive change it provided.
Thanks to the dreamy way it curves around the house, this metal screen facade casts interesting shadows on both the outdoor spaces below and the interior spaces behind its slats. These shadows change, particularly inside, as the day wears on and the sun’s angle moves. The spaces between the frames are large enough that they don’t inhibit the lovely view but small enough that they afford open-air verandahs on the inside some calm privacy.
The contemporary style that was so pivotal to the plan continues on the inside. Mod inspired furniture sits on a bright, daring red floor while the rest of the home’s surfaces stay rather neat and white. Air flow inside the home is breezy and pleasant thanks to the open facade near the verandahs, as is the level of natural light in the main living spaces.
Overall, the level of contrast in colour, materiality, and contemporary versus natural spaces achieves a careful balance in aesthetic and function that makes the whole area feel quite serene. The house is more than just visually impressive; it’s an entire experience.
Photos by Ravi Kanade
Industrial Style Architect’s House created by Nadine Engelbrecht in South Africa using a barn as inspiration
By Courtney • Mar 19, 2019
On the outskirts of the city of Pretoria in South Africa, designer and architect Nadine Engelbrecht has built a sprawling, borderline luxury dwelling called Industrial Style Architect’s House. Despite its clear urban and industrial influences, the house actually has an unexpected inspiration behind it: an old barn!
The lead architect on site actually designed this lovely home for her parents using the kind of small barn that would have stood on their childhood farms as the basis for the new house’s shape and structure. Despite that rustic motivation, the overall aesthetic choice and materiality is far more industrial influenced than farmhouse themed, making for an extremely interesting and visually beautiful contrast.
The central portion of the house, made primarily of black steel and glass that lets in plenty of natural life, is the clearest portion bearing barn-like inspiration. Wings for additional living space are built off of each side, one part of which includes a loft with a stunning view and a unique layout.
In the long central space, you’ll find a reception room with a high cathedral style ceiling that peaks in the centre above. This entire space is bright and naturally lit, heavy in windows and glass doors, and quite breathtaking in its clearly industrial simplicity. At the far end, where doors open onto a patio and lawn, is the large family dining table, where things stay the brightest.
The parts of the house that aren’t made from glass and black metals are kept a little more natural and slightly more rustic feeling, without feeling very “farmhouse chic” like you might expect a home inspired by a barn to be. Instead, design teams used concrete, exposed brick, and exposed carpentry made with reclaimed wood.
Moving from the well lit reception hall and dining room into the kitchen, you’ll find a continuation of these material contrasts, as well the way windows are a huge priority. Here, a stunning wooden island acts as a central hub of the kitchen space, while a large, wooden trap door leads down into a temperature controlled wine cellar. This door closes flat into the floor but still stands out as a nearly decorative piece because it’s the only other part of the house besides the shape that explicitly looks like it might have been part of a barn once upon a time.
On the second floor of the kitchen volume to the side of the sunny hall you’ll find guest bedrooms and the master suite. The colour palettes here are simple, pleasant, and minimalist, comprised mostly of neutral shades and cream tones. Although each bedroom has a clear priority in windows and bright, natural light, the master suite is really the room that takes this concept further on the top floors.
At the end of the master bed, where you’d first look when you wake up in the morning, stand a stunning set of floor to ceiling windows. These can be covered by a horizontally sliding shade to reduce the light they let in or left open so you can gaze upon the nearly-rural view of grasses and trees beyond the property. Besides this breathtaking view, the room’s decor is quite pleasantly simple in a way that is classy and sophisticated.
On the top floor of the volume built on the other side of the reception hall, sitting high above a comfortable but stylish living room and social seating area, is an activities space. This bright, wide open room features art, gallery lighting, and bean bag chairs for reading. The family often uses it for entertainment or hobbies and creative endeavours.
Photos by Marsel Roothman
By Courtney • Mar 14, 2019
In the lush tropics of Yakarta, Indonesia, The Upstairs House was recently completed by Wahana Architects to give its residents unique and modern living amenities in a truly innovative way. In a townhouse complex in South Jakarta, The Upstairs House occupies 560 square metres in a lovely, tropical townhouse complex. Because the house sits in such a busy and densely populated area, one of the main challenges for designers was to create a space that matches the impressive nature of the interior areas despite the fact that no real natural view exists around the building.
To do this, teams asked the clients what they’d desire to see most. It was decided that the creation of a natural environment and lovely green landscape would be a central priority. Now that it’s completed, the outdoor space around upstairs house is nothing short of stunning, chalk full of plant life that makes it resemble a holiday resort.
Besides greenery, the clients listed building a pleasant social space that friends and family will want to spend time in as being another high priority. This is actually part of how the house got its name! Rather than placing all of the private spaces upstairs and leaving public and social spaces on the ground floor, designers inverted the house’s format and place bedrooms below and entertainment spaces above.
This way, the busy family who owns the house is able to access their calm bedroom spaces immediately upon arriving home after a very long day. When they have guests over, however, a sort of house tour (which, thanks to the layout of the bedrooms and hallways, is minimally intrusive to the most private spaces) takes place on the way to the final destinations, living and dining rooms where chatting, eating, and other bonding activities take place.
One of the prettiest spaces in the house is actually located right near the entrance, greeting guests with its calm, spa-like atmosphere. This space is an indoor garden and reflection pool near an open staircase that leads upstairs to the group spaces. All around the entrance and stairs, you’ll find a stunningly natural finish created by the fact that reclaimed teak wood is featured heavily throughout the house.
The purpose of using teak in this way was multifaceted. It creates texture, harnesses a lovely natural colour scheme, creates cohesiveness with the lovely outdoor area, and allowed designers to put money back into the local economy because all of the reclaimed teak used was sourced locally.
Because the upper floor is made of only social spaces, designers were able to build a layout that is quite wonderfully open concept without interrupting or flowing into rooms the family would prefer to keep as their own rather than have quite so easily accessible to guests. On its borders, the upper floor is surrounded by glass and wooden lattices, a combination that provides floods of natural light and makes the space feel even more open while also providing a bit of privacy from the outside.
Those same wooden lattices we just mentioned are mirrored downstairs as well, this time used as delineators of space to create corridors towards the bedrooms. These lattices allow a natural breeze to flow through the downstairs area and even lets the bubbling sound of water from the reflection pond drift towards sleeping dwellers. These atmosphere elements calm the sense of those in the private spaces and lull them after the hustle and bustle of their day.
Furthering the sense that indoor and outdoor spaces are connected throughout the house, the children’s bedrooms downstairs each feature their own wooden deck style courtyard. These courtyards are filled with trees that are afforded the space to grow high towards the second level, where they provide some nice shade through the glass walls. The master bedroom, located on the other side of the house, has its own courtyard as well, and this features its own reflection pool, as well as a stunning vertical garden. The entire overall effect is wonderfully serene.
The wooden decks and courtyards we’ve just described are what really makes the difference between building a home in the middle of the city and building a spa-like tropical oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. These spaces and the way they extend into the semi-closed home areas of The Upstairs House are key in making it feel like a beautiful resort.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Résidence in Stoneham, created by PARKA by Architecture & Design, exemplifies modern cubic beauty in Canadian nature
By Courtney • Mar 13, 2019
In the luscious green areas of Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Canada, design teams at PARKA by Architecture & Design recently completed the beautifully modern housing space called Résidence in Stoneham.
From its conception, this house was intended to be a space that feels as though it’s integrating into its own landscape. Particularly because it was created for a young, busy family with an affinity for the great outdoors, the house has several features that help blend inside and outside experiences, creating an effective way to live in nature while also living in a modern abode.
Besides the emphasis on large, stunningly clear windows that flood the living spaces with natural light, there are two main features in the house that blend indoor and outdoor spaces particularly well. The first is the garden-level backyard which is accessed by fully opening patio doors leading to the swimming pool and a rolling, lush green lawn.
The second spot that gives especially easy outdoor access to the dwelling’s indoor areas is the large balcony style deck that sits off the master bedroom. This lets dwellers enjoy the fresh air from a raised point that gives them a particularly stunning view of the surrounding forest. It’s like you’re sitting amongst the treetops!
The cubic structure surrounding the balcony we’ve just described, which just out from the house, does more than just provide shade on sunny days. It also helps focus the view by framing the horizon in the distance perfectly and even adds a little bit of privacy from the surrounding area, just in case the owners feel like having coffee out there in their pyjamas on a warm morning.
In terms of materials, textures, and colour schemes, designers took a contemporary and natural approach all at once. The use of gleaming reclaimed wood and slate bring an element of decor that makes the house feel cohesive with its surroundings while star white and black surfaces and finishes give a slightly more stark atmosphere to certain rooms that seems to mirror the surrounding mountains of Stoneham while still looking quite modern indeed.
As it all of that wasn’t enough to really create a sense of indoor-outdoor harmony, the way designers included expansive, clear windows from floor to ceiling in most walls really ties it all together. These flood private and social spaces alike with sunlight and natural warmth no matter the season, providing a homey glow that makes some of the more modern shapes you see feel softer.
Photos by Jessy Bernier Photography
RIKAS, an ultra-modern family home created by 3DM Architecture, looks like the ultimate ‘slice’ of contemporary Heaven
By Courtney • Mar 12, 2019
In a sprawling land plot in a neighbourhood of Maliena, nestled in the heart of Swieqi in Malta, innovative designers at 3DM Architecture have created the RIKAS project, an ultra- modern home that looks like a feat of artistic but contemporary angles and shapes.
From the very conception of the design, the architectural team and the clients (a busy young couple with two lively and active children) aimed to create a space that looks pure and neat but incredibly bold and fun. This resulted in the decision to create a house with a shape that is, at its roots, basically a visual reaction to the plot of land it was built on! It mimics the overall shape and sturdiness of the land it stands upon.
Inside, the decor is one that is designed to build a relationship between aesthetic and function. Rather than just being incredibly modern like its shape and outer appearance but too rigid or cold looking for comfortable living, the team hit the mark between natural finishes and contemporary shapes and surfaces, creating a space that is no doubt very modern but also still suits a family lifestyle.
Because the very building itself plays with shapes and angles in such an interesting way, the opportunity arose inside for designers to play with light and shadow throughout. This gives the inside a slightly Renaissance period inspired element because much of the way lights and windows have been placed follow an old architectural style called the Chiaroscuro technique. By this, we mean that the ground floor of the house is flooded with natural light thank to floor to ceiling windows and apertures that create a sort of blended effect between indoor and outdoor areas, as though they are one.
Despite this open, well lit characteristic, however, designers still made sure that dwellers can be afforded more privacy and shade when they choose. They gave the well lit ground floor a bit of flexibility by installing remotely controlled fabric screens. When these are lowered the space becomes much more intimate. Of course, because of the way it’s raised and its peaked shape, all four floors of the house are most often flooded with natural sunlight, but the ground floor stays particularly naturally lit.
In terms of decor, designers had two distinct goals within the house (besides keeping a very contemporary yet livable feel) that, despite sounding at odds at first, actually work well together. Firstly, they wanted to use materiality and colour or decor schemes to differentiate between spaces. When the decor scheme changes, so does the function of the room.
At the same time, they wished to maintain some static elements that can be found all throughout the house so that some cohesion and decorative sense can me maintained from room to room. They aimed for securing a balance between the desired design aesthetic and what the clients’ daily needs might be living there with their family.
Finally, several features of the house were chosen for their sense of functional luxury. Sure, they were designed to be modern and impressive, but they aren’t frivolous details that a busy, social family wouldn’t use. For example, the indoor and outdoor pools and the sunken circular couch are fantastic spaces for bonding time, while the underground garage provides a space for family cards and activity supply storage that is secure and easily accessible.
Photos by Miguel Petrovic
Although it still sits on a street filled with classic turn-of-the0century limestone and weatherboard cottages, the newly renovated Silver Street House, recently completed by creative design teams at EHDO, is no longer just another example of that style amidst the rest! Instead, this home in South Fremantle, Australia was redone for a semi-retired couple in order to give them a contemporary looking yet cozy home escape now that they’re winding down their daily routines.
From start to finish, the Silver Street House took five years to complete. At first, small changes or renovations were made here and there until it was decided by both the designers and their clients that a full overhaul to make a stunning new space that still fit well in the old plot should be done. The idea was not without challenge, however. The plot where the house stands is quite narrow, measuring 368 square metres, but it’s also divided almost completely in two by a diagonal skewer easement that will not support permanent building.
Rather than feeling stunted by this slight hitch in potential building plans, the designers decided to take it as an opportunity to get creative. Ideas for different ways to blend engagement between domestic places and the public street, as well as internal and external home spaces, began to arise and a lot of discussion about the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces emerged.
To account for the easement, the home is built in two separate volumes that are linked by indoor and outdoor spaces where dwellers can travel across the space that cannot support a building. The ground floor, which is built on the lower side of the plot, features walls that are basically removable in the way they can be thrown open and slide back entirely, blending indoor spaces like the living room with the patio and yard.
The upstairs volume of the house, which sits at an angle to the ground level, is where the sleeping and private retreat areas reside. These were designed and decorated to be a sort of private relaxation space when the plethora of social and hosting spaces are not being used. The upstairs volume is extremely thick walled, which keeps it cool, quiet, and very private indeed, without feeling closed in. Large windows that open entirely and some balcony seating make sure it can still be blended with the outdoors as well.
The materials used throughout the house, as well as in the exterior, were specifically chosen for the way they created a sense of communication with nature. Sure, the street is a residential one in a city, but it’s still quiet and features lush greenery and designers didn’t want to lose that in building a sense of updated modernity. They locally sourced wood and granite, for example, accepting pieces with visual marks from wear and tear or weathering rather than looking for ones that were nearly pristine.
In addition to wood, which you can see was used liberally, this house also features natural and locally sourced off-form concrete, brickwork, and even a few Australian Cypress trees planted in the yard that, while not used to build anything, were transferred safely and kindly from another place in the local area and planted to flourish here and create even more cohesiveness between the house and its surrounding environment.
Thought the volumes of the house are quite large and the shape might look intimidating from the outside, there’s a sense of playful comfort one can feel as soon as you’ve passed through the doors. This is partially thanks to the way natural light is prioritized and allowed to flood into just about every space from floor to ceiling windows or fully retracting doors that make certain rooms, like the living room and kitchen, feel like you’ve truly taken out an entire wall to let the fresh air in.
The house is also quite green when it comes to heating and cooling systems! For example, high insulated R9 wall panels surround the upper volume, giving it increased thermal stability so that mechanic heating and cooling systems aren’t often needed. There are also several places where polycarbonate core-flue walling provide a type of shade from angles where the hottest, most direct sunlight might hit, reducing heat in the midst of summer but still giving a sort of ambient glow as far as light is concerned.
Of course, we’ve talked a lot about the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces and the prioritizing of plant life and surrounding nature, so we’re sure you’ll be less than surprised to hear that a stunning yard and lushly surrounded patio can be found out the back of the house. Trees and climbing plants give a sense of serene privacy while a lovely pond serves as a centre piece.
Photos by dionrobeson.com.au
By Courtney • Mar 5, 2019
House BL, a stunning new dwelling created by Hugo Monte in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, is a modern haven in the midst of a greatly contrasting rural setting.
Despite its slightly “out there” location, the sprawling, cubic house looks more like something very contemporary that you’d see in a city, making it stand out beautifully from its surroundings. Even so, its sleek lines and subtle white colour prevents it from sticking out too far, rendering it rather beautiful rather than being an eyesore.
Part of the reason the house blends so well despite its modern structure is the designers’ emphasis on enjoyable outdoor spaces. These balance the building itself very well. For example, visitors are easily hosted on a largely extended back patio that features a relaxing seating area and a sunken fire put that’s safe for the area and bears a calm, contemplative atmosphere.
Entering the house, you’ll encounter a bright, naturally lit entrance hall that’s spacious and welcoming. This extends upwards, the height of all three floors included in the house. On each level of the rectangular house, you’ll find rooms organized by function and the demands of daily life, which was intentional to create food, sensical flow throughout the house during the coarse of the day and week.
At the basement level, that sense of good flow and easy access continues downward where the space incorporate the garage almost without interruption. Here, a ramp seamlessly transitions one space into another, alongside storage rooms and a workout space. This area is accessed by the same central staircase you might have seen in the foyer, which extends throughout the whole house and gives access to every single floor.
On the main floor, designers included an office, a guest bathroom, a living room with plenty of seating, and a sizeable kitchen. Each of these are naturally well lit thanks to high standing glass panels that let the light from the outside windows to seep in, keeping the place feeling open, but at the same time provide some delineation between rooms with differing functions.
Upstairs, bedrooms are balanced with a stunning reading lounge. Here, each room is connected in some way, either through the lounge, the double-height hallway space, or the master bathroom, giving the whole floor that same sense of seamless flow. Ample closet space is also provided, which is simply a bonus! To blend indoor and outdoor spaces even further, the master bedroom features a stunningly wide and spacious balcony that overlooks the garden and the yard below, providing a fantastic view.
Flanking said garden, a series of century old cork oak trees stand where they’ve always been rooted, undisturbed and given a place of honour in the garden. This is because designers chose to build the house and patio layout so that it worked alongside the trees, rather than changing them in any way. Now, they form a sort of perimeter around the fire pit, enhancing the spot’s feeling of calm.
Photos by Joao Morgado
Hidden Cross Residence by Ntovros Vasileios Architects perfectly blends modern family needs with whimsical childhood elements
By Courtney • Feb 28, 2019
Located on a small hill in beautiful Chalcis in Greece, a brand new house by innovative design teams at Ntovros Vasileios Architects presents visitors with the perfect blend of modern family amenities and fun, whimsical details that would make any child (or kid-at-heart) feel right at home. The Hidden Cross residence, in the suburb of Chalkida is the perfect seaside spot!
In terms of its terrain, the plot of this house slopes downwards to the water, giving it an unparalleled view but also making it a unique challenge for builders. That’s part of the reason why designers chose a structure that’s neat and compact, letting the home be anchored properly and safely. The shape gives it a neat modern feel as well, which was an added bonus!
Thanks to innovative architecture, the slope only served to enhance what the house had to offer, rather than limiting it. Even with its angle, Hidden Cross features a beautiful yard, plenty of semi-covered and relaxing outdoor spaces, and several balconies on the south side, which faces away from the main road running along the plot’s edge to the north.
Inside the home, the rooms operate according to a vertical and a horizontal axis. The place where the two intersect is where the primary living space is featured, making it great for family and social gatherings. Along the vertical axis, you’ll find a delineation between areas of movement (this is where the main staircase is located, as well as an elevator) and spaces meant for function (like the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms).
Along the horizontal axis, however, you’ll encounter a separation between public spaces and private once. This creates a sense of flow in the house that, well, makes perfect sense! Even first time visitors can suss out where the room they’re looking for is quite easily without direction, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. This, in combination with the fact that several small novelty features were clearly created with children in mind (not the miniature cubby staircase leading to and from the playroom), really makes the house feel like an experience.
The layout and kid-friendly details aren’t the only interesting things about this space. Designers also included several facilities that make the home green, simple to work, and affordable to run. For example, it possess both active and passive solar heating systems, as well as natural cooling. This system includes a solar greenhouse by the kitchen, cool openings on the south side of the main volume, and vertical ventilation in the staircase that creates a cross-ventilation with the main skylight.
Equally impressive to the natural systems of cooling and heating was the designers’ natural approach to light! Of course, any home will include some artificial light, but this team made sure to maintain balance between that and effective levels of natural sunlight. A central skylight and impressively large glazed windows, as well as smaller ones placed strategically, play large roles in this. As a unique touch, the team also placed various shades over some windows, giving owners the option of casting shadows and filtering their light through covers that add some lit up colour to the room.
Photos by Dimitris Sotiropoulos
Stunningly sleek Campbell Street by DKO Architecture + SLAB is a feat of vertical living philosophies
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
In the city of Collingwood in Australia, designers are starting to think about the shape of average houses and their architectural possibilities and little bit differently. DKO Architecture + SLAB‘s recent Campbell Street project is the perfect example of how many teams are taking the concept of “vertical living” to whole new levels!
This house is a multi-residential project, meaning that it features more than one apartment despite the fact that it’s not your standard high rise apartment building. The residence also harnesses vertical living philosophies by expanding upwards as you move room to room, rather than sprawling horizontally or taking up space with width. This lets neighbourhoods house more people without taking up so much land, fitting homes into smaller spaces.
In this particular case, designers worked with a small space almost ten times smaller than the average Australian city house’s plot. Even so, they managed to build a stunning three bedroom home (built like two vertical apartments attached side by side) that feels anything but cramped or small.
Despite the fact that Collingwood is a suburb that boasts a great amount of diversity, designers felt that gentrification has taken its toll on the area so they wanted to build something truly unique and authentic, bearing a sense of class but without being inaccessible and exorbitant in price. They also wanted to make sure the residence suited this eclectic street, which they felt was one of the few left with true variety and character in the area, so exterior design was an important element.
To make the multi-story building stand out, the team shrouded it in a cloak of pressed aluminum sheeting that was custom punctured for visual detail. This aesthetic makes it look bold and intriguing in the street’s fabric. This facade also has a functional use; it helps mitigate heat from the sun pouring down the elevated street in the afternoons.
In order to maximize on natural lightly in spaces that are smaller than usual in dimension (despite not feeling cramped), designers built these residence around central columns made from floor to ceiling windows encasing a staircase. This creates the effect of a column of light plunging straight through the centre of the building from the rooftop garden at its very highest point, all the way down into the basement, which is actually the smallest measuring basement in Melbourne.
Besides gorgeous floods of natural light, this central glass and staircase column also provides the vertical home with cross ventilation in each room, giving the whole house fresh circulation. This free movement of air but presence of sunlight helps with temperature regulation, making heating and cooling systems less necessary day to day so that the house runs a little more green than the average building.
Because they were working with smaller and more unique spaces than usual, design teams opted to concentrate on making rooms diverse and transformable so they could serve more than one purpose, rather than just making more rooms. They carefully considered and arranged layouts so that a bedroom might also become a home theatre or a spacious family kitchen might also be altered to comfortably seat six or eight people when guests visit. The key here was foldable features and flexibility.
Far from making the rooms feel crowded, their multi-purpose nature serves to break down traditional conceptions of space and merge functions in the home for a more blended lifestyle that, according to those already living in similar units, results in more time spent with family without having to sacrifice private space or alone time.
This sense of boundaries that exist but don’t confine is enhanced by the inclusion of mirrored decor, glass floors, glass dividers, and internal windows between rooms. The resulting perception is that plenty of space is available and there’s a room in which you can do anything you’d need to in a “regular house” and then some.
Angular Okada Marshall House by D’Arcy Jones Architects impresses with its sharp corners and wooden detail
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
Nestled in the wooded greenery of Sooke, in Canada, the stunning, Okada Marshall House was created by D’Arcy Jones Architects as a calming ocean escape that’s nothing short of intriguing.
The house is uniquely H-shaped, wrapping its exterior walls around two lovely courtyards. This creates the effect that all windows and doors face outwards, looking towards ancient ocean rocks and bright green moss. The house maintains a parapet height, varying very little in its verticality despite all of its angles and turns. A concrete element that seems to undulate actually serves to anchor the home to the rocks, which sit not far from the edge of the pacific ocean, rather than just to please visually.
With the exception of the way its thin wooden slats and pillars break up solid space, the home’s exterior appears quite solid and quiet, befitting of its water woodland location. These slats extend to create a lovely screen around certain parts of the inner courtyards, providing some privacy without blocking out sunlight or giving the area too much shade where warmth should be.
Inside, the wooden theme continues, rendering the house what designers referred to as “a comprehensive tribute to wood”. Besides the slats on the facade and making up the screen, wooden columns can be seen holding up the “dining roof” like a platform in the air, defining the far end of the outdoor courtyard areas. This also provides additional parking underneath in what feels like an inviting outdoor all-purpose “room”.
Inside and outside, facades, furnishings, and finishes are all created from wood supplied by innovative company Shou-sugi. This wood is hand charred according to ancient Japanese techniques, ensuring that it will never rot. It doesn’t even need any maintenance! These features make it the perfect choice for a damp and wooded Canadian seaside location.
The layout inside the home is just as intriguing, if not more, as the angles and sharp corners you see outside. This is because the owners requested a home without stairs! Instead, the daytime and social spaces are stretched wide to lead directly into sloping hallways that curve and lead gently from floor to floor.
These elongated halls give the house a feeling of massive expansiveness and also provide a quiet separation of space that actually cancels noise quite effectively without making rooms feel cut off from one another. In reality, the home is not actually as sprawling as it feels; it simply bears a fluid spatial organization that feels just about never-ending.
Now, the angles and curves that you’ll experience both in and outside the house are actually far from random, despite how they appear. They’re actually created to mimic and work wth the natural rocky topography of the site where the house sits! This angles windows and open spaces for a better view of Vancouver Island’s west coast, which is stunning in any season.
Despite the heavy emphasis on wood, there are some varying finishes elsewhere. The master bathroom, for example, was purposely finished in Japanese black tile in order to create a balance of light. No matter how grey the seaside skies, the outside will always appear brighter than the dark, black finished of that bathroom, letting dwellers start their day on a lighter note.
This subtle light manipulating theme extends into areas where stark white walls contrast with wooden furnishings as well. Here, light from the massive windows is tended to bounce and brighten the whole place. This, in partnership with the way the arms of the house’s H-shape encompass the courtyard in a way that keeps out morning fog, keeps the whole atmosphere feeling cozy and secure, rather than isolated or gloomy.
Photos by Sama Jim Canzian
By Courtney • Feb 19, 2019
In a busy but pleasantly suburban neighbourhood in Singapore, design teams at ONG&ONG Pte Ltd recently finished a multi-generational family housing project that uses a combination of sleek, modern lines and materials with wide open, nature filled spaces to meet all of the family’s needs.
37FC-House sits on a plot that has always been residential but that was cleared shortly before building began. Previously, the comfortably secluded spot of land featured an old semi-detached house. Upon purchasing, the new owners decided that a stand-alone structure would be much better for their family, since several generations of them live together at once. In order to maximize the space they could give the family without sprawling to close to the edges of the plot and thereby sacrificing all outdoor space, designers opted to build vertically instead. That’s why the new house has four floors!
On the ground floor, the style and aesthetic of the house are evident before you’ve even gone through the door thanks to the way granite tiles line the edges of the driveway. These balance well visually with the light concrete and mirror style glass that reaches floor to ceiling in the home’s outer facade. To add a comfortable, natural element, the house also features teak wood quite consistently both inside and out, particularly where storage spaces are discreetly added in each room.
Social and service rooms, like the kitchen, are featured right up front, making guests feel at home and part of the home’s running the moment they enter. Right from the front to the back of the house on this floor, grey finishes are balanced by lovely glass walls that pull back entirely to blend clean, modern indoor spaces with with the sunlight and greenery of the front and back yards, which are quite lush with local plant life.
Nestled amidst the garden at the back of the house, which the kitchen and living rooms can be fully opened too, sits a Sukabumi-tiled pool. This body of water is decorative and practical, smaller inside to make it more of a lap pool than a swimming pool but still enjoyable and relaxing. Rather than just serving as a space of leisure, this pool also acts as a barrier between the house and the sounds of the road that run behind the back yard. More lush greenery helps here as well, affording the yard more quiet and peaceful privacy.
In fact, greenery plays a huge role in the decor and atmosphere of the entire house overall. Pretty green spaces are actually built into each of the four floors in different ways, right from the front to the back of the house. Even in spots where there are no plants potted or set inside, long glass windows make the space feel green by showcasing the trees that flank the length of the house outside.
Unlike most houses, the second floor of the house is actually larger than the ground floor! This floor is primarily constructed of concrete and is rectangular in shape. This floor is where the bedrooms in the house lie, ended on each side with stunning sunny spaces that primarily serve just to give a quiet seating area with a good view of the garden and its greenery. The bedrooms are simply and calming, with the master featuring a walk-in closet and its own bathroom. Two other family bedrooms overlook the pool area, which catches the sun prettily in the afternoons.
Flanking the two floors we’ve already discussed are the basement at the bottom and the attic up on top. Each of these is accessible thanks to a black steel staircase that is clean and simple in its line but also somehow has a sculpture-like quality to it thanks to the contrast of glass banisters and smooth wooden stairs.
In the basement, you’ll find an artistic looking multi-media room that features a glass section in the wall that actually looks into the blue waters of the pool on the ground floor. In the attic, on the other hand, you’ll encounter a lovely attic skylight that allows light to flood the staircase and cascade down the centre to all the other floors. The attic also features a guest bedroom with its very own greenery element and small water feature.
As with most new homes in the area, 37FC-House bears a reduced carbon footprint. This is thanks to the inclusion of strong roof-mounted solar panels that reduce energy consumption, as well as a system that links lighting controls to a smartphone app, making lights even easier to turn off when they’re not necessary. This house is the perfect example of what’s become known as a “smart home”.
Photos by Derek Swalwell
By Courtney • Feb 18, 2019
In the rolling hills of St Helena, USA, a stunningly wooden home dubbed Zinfandel was recently finished by Field Architecture. The dwelling is aptly named for its location on a breathtaking vineyard and the whole plot and project gives off a sense of luxury that perfectly blends with natural, homey relaxation.
Zinfandel house was created specifically for a young couple who wanted a break from city life. When they found the old vineyard, which is nestled not far from Napa Valley, they simply couldn’t pass up the Mayacama view and they knew that’s where they wanted to settle and grow their family. That’s why designers opted to make them a home that suits both small family evenings and large social gatherings without feeling either crowded or isolated; it’ll suit the family’s needs no matter how it grows and changes.
Because they had the space to work with, enveloped in rolling fields there on the valley floor, designers created the home like a series of small, connected buildings. Rather than feeling too divided, however, they organized it so that the rooms and their functions make perfect, comfortable sense as you move through the house upon entering. The house is flanked on each side by beautifully towering trees and the central courtyard, which gets the most sun, features a lovely pool that’s impressively modern compared to the wooden structures, establishing a fantastic contrast in aesthetic.
Materially, the house communicates well with the land. The timber and metal put into it were primarily local, giving the structure a neutral colour that suits the mountainous scenery around the valley. The history of the original site is preserved in both this aesthetic and the fact that the property still boasts the very same barn that was first built there decades ago, giving the plot a sense of authenticity.
Far from making the inside feel heavy or dark because of all the wood, designers created a home that’s full of natural valley sunlight thanks to an emphasis on skylights and large, view-giving windows. The roof in which the skylights are set is a singular slab of thing metal that peaks gently in the middle, mimicking the shape of the mountain peaks all around in the distance.
The decor scheme on the inside follows the same ongoing trend of balancing perfectly somewhere between modern and repurposed or traditional looking. Wooden furnishings and finishes play visually against silver, metals, and uniquely shaped lighting, fixtures, and details. In the summer, patio doors can be thrown wide open to abolish boundaries between the sunny inside of the living and family spaces and the breathtaking vineyard outside the home’s walls.
Photos by Joe Fletcher
Family House in Kaunas built by Architectural Bureau G.Natkevicius & Partners to take advantage of stunning quarry view
By Courtney • Feb 14, 2019
In the city of Kaunas, in the heart of Lithuania, sits the lovely and unique looking Lampedis quarry. Now, the shores of a quarry might not sound like the usual location for a sprawling family home, but that’s precisely where the firm forward-thinking firm Architectural Bureau G.Natkevicius & Partners chose to build the beautiful Family House.
This stunning three-bedroom house sits on a plot that was hand picked by the clients with the specific intention of face the water and enjoying the unique shoreline that the quarry offers. Because the shore was such a focus in their minds, designers chose to make it a primary focus in the house’s structure and orientation as well.
To start out, designers based their structural choices on the principle of “screen architecture”. On the backside of the house, you’ll find walls built almost entirely from glass, allowing a stunning view of the water to be absorbed from quite literally any room in the house. Rather than over complicating things, teams chose to keep the rest of the house around these views quite simple, so as not to detract from the landscape’s natural beauty.
To reach these design goals, designers chose to build a simple but graceful facade that features depth impression and lots of detail. The lines of the house are steadfast but neat and pleasing. The recessed windows and other areas make a regular shape look like an interesting object peeking out of the horizon. Architects played with angles too, building certain areas and cornices that were inspired by the shape of a horse’s blinders. This directs all attention to the glass, which once again puts the house’s view in central focus.
The angled cornices you see in these photos serve a practical purpose as well! Their extending edges are stylish but they also separate visible living spaces inside the home from the view line of neighbouring plots and other homes. Additionally, they extended sections protect the glass (which is hardy, but a little extra safety never hurts) from excess sunlight, inclement weather, and so on. They even give the first floors terrace a bit of extra shade on hot days!
Although it’s all connected, the building looks as though it’s separated into different volumes. Each of these has a neat, clean, structured aesthetic that’s quite visually satisfying. Overall, there are three segments that make up the full house. These are the main rectangle on the first floor and two slightly smaller rectangles sitting on the second floor. You might notice two protruding sections that look like rooms extending from the house; these are the master bedroom on the front side, which is visually balanced by the library at the back.
As you’ll notice, the whole exterior of the house is covered in copper tin. This catches the sun and, in partnership with the shining glass, makes the house appear bright and nearly glowing. This brightness is continued inside, where social and private rooms alike are kept cheerfully bright by the large windows. These windows are situated such that a nearly panoramic view of the water is established, but at the same time the surrounding buildings are excluded from the picture, making it feel like the house and the water are the only things around for miles.
Besides being stunning, the structure of the house was also chosen to cater to unique functional needs based on the client’s unique lifestyle. These owners breed dogs as an occupation, so having lots of fluid space was quite necessary. Designers achieved this by including a whole block on the first floor specifically intended for keeping dogs where they can live comfortably. Visitors will notice that this particular volume sits higher than the others, keeping it from feeling crowded and giving it extra natural light.
Overall, the house provides a wonderful sense of blending between humans, animals, nature, and architecture.
Photos by Leonas Garbačiauskas
By Courtney • Feb 11, 2019
Smack in the middle of the bustling city of Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, a towering residential project called Frans Halsstraat has been built by Cantero Architecture to show off classic styles of historical Dutch architecture, but this time blended in unique ways with slightly more modern aesthetics.
Originally, this building was an old, more traditional set of homes and apartments. Standing tall in the stylish but older neighbourhood of Pijp, right in the centre of Amsterdam, the building was recently renovated to provide a series of more modern residential units that still boast some of the more historical styles in perfect harmony with updated features.
Typically, Dutch architecture has been characterized over time by spaces that are both deep and narrow, which is where the common local concept of a “through-flat” evolved from. In this type of apartment, a home can have two main sides that are connected through the middle to the front and back of the building. This gives designers two different opportunities to relate inner spaces aesthetically and physically to the exterior of the building on each side!
In this case (since this building does feature classic through-flats), the front “compartment” of the units faces a calm, narrow public street where the public of the country’s capital city mills by. On the other side, each unit is afforded a view of a magnificent interior courtyard out the back of the building, featuring a stunning private garden with nice social seating for residents and visitors.
In the particular apartment you see in the photos, designers had to do a bit of spacial organizing before they could really get into the swing of things with the renovation. They first wanted to evaluate how they might make better use of the existing rooms on that floor before changing the space too drastically. They also wanted to examine whether they might integrate some clever storage space into certain living areas to give dwellers more places to put their belongings in order to reduce clutter.
Besides great use of space, building a strong connection between interior and exterior areas was paramount for the design team. They wanted to capture the wonderful view the unit was afforded and bring that inside for the owners enjoyment as much as possible. This was achieved in the form of stunning windows that really serve to open the home up to natural light.
Now that the renovation is completed, most rooms in the house appear to revolve around or be organized according to the “oak heart” of the house. This “heart” is a big, shared walk-in closet that provides unparalleled storage and communicates a visual and spatial separation between two main bedrooms and more social or public rooms of the house.
The wooden closet piece is almost like an experience in itself. When you step into it, you feel as though you’re in a completely separate, entirely wooden structure, the aesthetic of which is only interrupted by natural light flooding in from overhead. Both the inside and outside of this central wooden structure feature storage cubbies and spots, some of which the owners described as “hidden and unexpected”.
Also down the centre of the core is a metal-framed glass corridor. This is where the entrances to the different rooms in the home lie, making one’s movement throughout the unit feel almost entirely continuous. There is also a section where the space you’re walking through appears to open entirely to the outdoors despite actually being enclose, blending interiors and exteriors once more.
Even the colour contrasts happening within the space appear to open things up a little bit. The way that stark white walls play against dark flooring visually creates space and makes rooms feel more limitless. Designers also played with texture in most rooms, alternating between natural oak furniture and sophisticated matte black or brushed bronzed details and surfaces.
The final touches were added in the bathroom, of all place, but the thought process actually makes a lot of sense! This is where designers wanted residents to be able to relax, concentrate on self care, and seek a sense of wholeness and calm. In the bathroom, you’ll see warm wood featured alongside blue ceramic tiles, while natural lava stone basins add a peaceful element like the kind you might expect in a spa!
Photos by Luuk Smits